Denny Hamlin will be sidelined at least six weeks because of a fractured vertebra sustained in a last-lap crash at California.
Hamlin was evaluated Tuesday by Dr. Jerry Petty of Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates. Petty determined the driver will not need surgery, but the L1 compression fracture in his lower back needs a minimum of six weeks to heal.
NASCAR is off this weekend, so Hamlin could miss only five races if the healing process meets Petty's estimate.
Joe Gibbs Racing said no decision has been made on a replacement for Hamlin, who is 10th in the Sprint Cup Series standings.
Here is the official release for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) driver Denny Hamlin was evaluated today by Dr. Jerry Petty of Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates after suffering an L1 Compression Fracture during an accident on the final lap of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.
Dr. Petty determined that Hamlin will not require surgery, but will need time to properly heal, which is estimated around six weeks time. Dr. Petty will make the determination when Hamlin will be able to return to racing this season.
No decision has been made on a replacement driver for Hamlin during his absence from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series